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21 Tips New Homeowners Need to Know

So, you’ve just moved into a new home—congratulations! Getting your own home is one of the most exciting milestones in life and comes with great obligations. While it might seem daunting to be fully responsible for the upkeep of your new home, there are some simple things you can do to alleviate some of the stress of homeownership.

Read on for information and tips that every new homeowner should know!

1. Keep a Homeowner’s Journal

Not only will this help document your homeowner’s journey, but you can also compile necessary paperwork in one place, including mortgage and insurance forms, store receipts, warranties, installation guides, and a list of information on reliable contractors. Plus, if you decide to sell your house, all the paperwork will be right at your fingertips!

2. Identify Potential Issues Early On

Identifying minor problems early on will save you money and stress later if you can identify minor problems. Look out for the following:

  • Air coming in through window or door seals
  • Basement leaking or flooding
  • Compromised foundations
  • Roof leaks or warping

3. Create an Emergency House Fund

One of the downsides to owning your property is being responsible for anything that goes wrong. That being said, unexpected costs can be prepared for—starting an emergency house fund as quickly as possible is the answer. Try to budget some money every month to go into your emergency fund to take some of the financial stress out of unexpected house repairs.

4. Tackle Projects One at a Time

It’s likely tempting to start all your home improvement projects at once, but it will be much easier to tackle these tasks one at a time. Not only will your wallet thank you, but your sanity—moving into a new home is stressful enough without adding unnecessary strain to your daily life. Identify home improvement priorities, make a plan, and work to complete it.

5. Wait on Large Projects

Most experts agree that you should hold off on beginning any massive construction or renovation projects in your new home for about six months or until you have settled in. Let yourself get a feel for the house and get your expenses in order before any sudden or significant changes occur. Your stress levels will thank you!

6. Be Friendly

It might seem obvious, but making friends with your neighbors will make your living situation even more enjoyable. Introduce yourself and be friendly—building a relationship with the people around you can help you learn about the neighborhood, community activities, and more.

7. Pick Paint Colors

With all the freedom of decoration you have in a new home, it could be tempting to embrace the wild side of color when painting. However, if you stick to more neutral colors such as white, grey, or beige, your house will undoubtedly flow better. Plus, you won’t need to paint over a bright red wall in the future. Add pops of color with rugs, paintings, or soft furnishings.

If you want more pizazz in the house, try a light blue or green in the bathroom to bring out an oceanic vibe. Kitchens can be painted dusty yellow to make the room appear bigger and brighter. 

8. Measure First

Make sure to measure everything before purchasing new furnishings, appliances, or other house goods. The last thing you need is to install a new toilet just to discover that the bathroom door won’t close past it! Always check the clearance and boundary measurements before shopping.

9. Use Dust Masks

If you are cleaning out parts of your new home or doing any kind of renovations, it’s important to invest in good dust masks. Repeated and heavy exposure to dust and particles can harm your lungs, so spend a bit more and get N95 certified dust masks for a more comfortable and safe fit.

10. Call Before You Dig

If you are planting a garden or doing some in-depth landscaping, it can be tempting to dig that big hole without any delay. However, don’t dig until you call 811, which is the national dig-safety hotline. They will run a report of all underground pipes, wires, and cables and get back to you within a day or so. 

Use this free hotline service to avoid any damage to your utility layouts. Then you can plant those bushes or put up the fence with peace of mind!

11. Check Your Attic Insulation

First, know where your attic access is located in the house—typically a ceiling hatch in a hallway or closet. Next, it’s time to check the depth of the insulation installed in your attic. This keeps your house more energy-efficient, so it is crucial to have an appropriate depth. If you can see the tops of your joists, there is not enough insulation.

Most experts recommend about 10 or 14 inches of insulation depth in attics, or what is known as R-38. R-values measure the resistance to heat flow, so the higher the number, the better the insulation. The insulation R-value depends on the thickness and material type, so make sure to select the appropriate insulation for your situation based on R-value.

12. Deal with Pests Properly

Pests within your property are undoubtedly annoying. But if you deal with them properly, you can avoid a drawn-out battle with bugs. For example, if ants have invaded your kitchen, don’t squish them immediately—place toxic ant bait where you have seen them, and allow the workers to carry the bait back to the colony. This will eliminate the source of the problem.

13. Don’t Trust All Breaker Panel Labels

Electricians recommend not taking the breaker panel labels at face value, especially in older homes that have undergone previous renovations or remodeling. Some circuits might no longer be in the allocated room, or an orphan outlet could be connected somewhere unexpected. 

In this case, note all the original labels and locations. Then, either hire an electrician to determine circuit layouts or use the process of elimination yourself and ensure everything is properly labeled. It’s best to use a voltage detector to ensure the power is off before doing any electrical work in the house.

14. Switch the Fan Direction

This tip is not too well known, but your ceiling fan should rotate according to season. During the cooler winter months, ceiling fans should spin clockwise and push warm air back into the room. In the summer, change the fan to spin counter-clockwise to pull cool air into the room. Most fans do have a switch or pull cord to change spin direction.

15. Find the Property Lines

Make sure you know where your property ends. Typically, iron stakes are placed underground in the corners of your property and where your land meets the neighbors. You can get a plot plan from your municipal office or utilize a metal detector to locate the stakes and determine your property line.

16. Invest in Good Tools

Once you have a home, you can get some good tools to take care of it. You don’t need to splurge on expensive items, but investing in some good-quality tools is handy, especially when hanging curtains or measuring a new kitchen counter. These tools include:

  • Level
  • Electric drill
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Stud finder
  • Sturdy ladder
  • Wire stripper

17. Be Secure

You might think of crime as a nighttime activity, but experts attest to a shift here. These days, burglaries tend to happen between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. while people are away at work or busy with errands. Thieves use unlocked doors and windows for entry, so make sure you keep everything locked up, invest in daytime security for peace of mind, and review some home security tips.

18. Shut it All Off

Whether you are leaving for vacation or a severe weather front is coming, it’s essential to know how to shut off the utility mains in your house. Learn where the water, gas, and electrical mains are when you move in, and practice shutting them off. This will save you precious time in an emergency and some stress when away for an extended period.

19. Test Smoke Detectors

For everyone’s safety, regularly test and replace the batteries in the smoke detectors. They should be tested every month, and batteries should be replaced at least once a year regardless. After about ten years, smoke detectors need to be entirely replaced; if you can’t find any “replace by” dated stickers on the units, replace them promptly, just in case.

20. Monitor Energy Usage

Pay close attention to your home’s energy usage to keep utility bills as low as possible. Even small changes can dramatically lower your bills and reduce the carbon footprint you leave. These changes include:

  • Lower the water heater’s thermostat to around 120°
  • Move the fridge away from the stove and oven
  • Replace regular light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs
  • Schedule a home energy information audit

21. Check the Water Drainage

Check out your property’s gradience—it should slope away from the foundation by at least 6 inches over 10 feet. This prevents rainwater or melting snow from soaking into the foundation and causing cracks or leaks. Ensure your water drainage is sufficient for the slope and extend downspouts at least 5 feet away from the foundation.

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